With the new financial year under way, employers should be aware of the changes to minimum employment conditions that have recently commenced operation, or due to commence soon.
These have been referred to in earlier updates, but by way of a recap they include, from 1 July 2013:
- The minimum wage increased by 2.6% for weekly Award rates. The minimum for Award-free employees also increased to $622.20 per week or $16.37 per hour. The changes commenced from the first pay period after 1 July 2013
- The minimum superannuation contribution rate is now 9.25% of an employee’s ordinary time earnings, up from 9%. The rate will progressively rise to 12%, by July 2019
- The maximum superannuation contributions base became $48,040 per quarter, or $192,160 per annum (up from $45,750 per quarter, or $183,000 per annum for FY 2012/03), and
- The high income threshold for unfair dismissal proceedings became $129,300 for all Award and collective agreement-free employees
A number of changes to the Fair Work Act have also been passed, with several family-friendly measures coming into effect from 1 July 2013, including:
- Allowing employees to take special maternity leave without reducing their entitlement to unpaid parental leave
- Increasing the maximum period of concurrent unpaid parental leave from 3 to 8 weeks which can be taken in separate periods within the first 12 months of birth or adoption
- Expanding the classes of employees who can exercise the right to request flexible working arrangements, and
- Allowing pregnant women to transfer to an appropriate safe job regardless of their period of service
Further changes will also take effect, from 1 January 2014, including:
- A new right allowing workers who reasonably believe that they have been bullied at work, to apply to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for orders stoping the bullying. Applications must begin to be dealt with in 14 days. High penalties (up to $51,000) can apply
- Expanding union rights of entry, to include holding meetings in lunchrooms
- Requiring ‘genuine consultation’ with employees about changes to regular working hours, and
- A new Modern Awards objective referring to the ‘need’ to provide additional remuneration for working overtime, unsociable regular or unpredictable hours, weekends or public holidays or shifts
The amendments are likely to affect most businesses.
All employers should make sure that management knows and is trained in their requirements, including in relation to bullying and how to respond to complaints.
Policies and contracts should be reviewed to reflect the new arrangements in the lead-up to the further changes.
If you have any questions regarding the changes outlined above, or your minimum pay obligations, do not hesitate to contact us.
This article was produced by HR Legal. It is intended to provide general information only in summary format on legal issues. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such.